BISMARCK, ND — The announcement that North Dakota Indian Affairs Commission Executive Director Scott Davis was put on administrative leave begs questions about what exactly is happening in Gov. Doug Burgum’s cabinet amid the COVID-19 crisis. The Davis report follows a pattern of departures this year that includes three chief public health officers resigning during the pandemic as well as exits by the leaders of the Department of Commerce and Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.
A leadership vacuum in public health and economic departments is especially alarming during the twin public health and economic crises of COVID-19. The vacant Indian Affairs position is worrisome as the pandemic has affected Native Americans disproportionately. With close quarters, correctional facilities, like nursing homes, have also faced frequent outbreaks nationally. NDDOCR recently reported an uptick in cases.
The Democratic-NPL Party Chairwoman Kylie Oversen said:
“It is certainly important to investigate any allegations of misconduct by any public official. But, with yet another cabinet member stepping away from their post, North Dakotans and public workers deserve to know what’s going on with their state leadership team. Every time the cabinet door spins around, it becomes clearer and clearer that Gov. Burgum’s leadership approach and unwillingness to take any decisive action is not working. His so-called “light touch of government” is hurting both lives and livelihoods. We need to elect leaders like Dr. Shelley Lenz, who will govern with transparency and collaboration, so we can get out of this pandemic and move on to an economic recovery that works for all North Dakotans.”